You should also check with your county and municipality to see whether they have other requirements you must follow in order to trim or remove a roadside tree. When a tree on your property hangs over the boundary line into another yard, you have a duty to address all weak or damaged branches. Learn more about how to file a case. It extends way over the property line, over your yard or even your house. In Fancher v. Fagella, the Virginia Supreme Court held that where a neighbor’s tree causes harm or poses an imminent danger of harm to an adjoining property, the tree owner “may be held responsible” for this harm. If the entire trunk rests on one side of the property line, that neighbor has ownership regardless if branches, roots, foliage or any other portion of the tree hangs over the property line. Your neighbor has that old maple tree right near the property line. He should get out his saw. If you would like to discuss our assistance with a litigation, tree, or property matter, call Longman & Van Grack’s attorneys today at (301) 291-5027 to schedule a consultation in our Bethesda, Maryland, Rockville, Maryland, or Washington, DC offices. An unauthorized entry onto the land of your neighbor constitutes a trespass for which your neighbor could seek damages against you. Being living organisms, trees grow and spread over time. A landowner can still be held liable where dead or dying tree limbs from trees on his property injure others. There are some things to consider if you have a problem with a tree on a shared property line: Instead, you should first obtain your neighbor’s consent before entering their property. Act of God. Feel free to ask to speak with one of our two real property litigators directly: Adam Van Grack or Theodore Kiviat. The rights of a property owner to remove or trim their neighbor’s trees. 3 One month later, Gary Stocks and Daniel Kirchner of North Carolina were killed in an alleged tree dispute between neighbors. Except the trees were the unlucky cabin campers. Your neighbors have a duty not to trespass on your property, and this may include overhanging tree branches or other plants extending from the neighbor’s property onto your property. The tree canopy is huge. One often-overlooked legal issue related to storms and property damage in Maryland, Virginia, and DC is potential legal liability related to tree damage, at risk trees, or fallen trees. Then imagine your surveyor properly locates the boundary and you set up one of those rotating red lasers on the line. Is there a rule for trees on the property line? You may not go onto the neighbor's property or destroy the tree. Rules, Title 15, Chapter 500, This site offers legal information, not legal advice. That was the case for Phyllis J., a Davey blog reader from Arizona who wrote about a palm tree that sits on the corner of her lot. Although Maryland has had no court case dealing with an invasive species, Maryland’s courts seem to be limiting all plant overgrowth cases to self-help, meaning a neighboring landowner will bear the burden of stopping overgrowth on his/her property. All the owners are responsible for caring for the tree, and one co-owner may not remove a healthy tree without the other owners' permission. If they decide the tree is likely to cause damage, they can take several courses of action. If you damage the structure of a neighbor's tree, you may be liable for damages. Options for tree maintenance near service wires or between poles on or near your property are explained below. © Maryland Thurgood Marshall State Law Library, 2021.”, Submit a legal information question to the Thurgood Marshall State Law Library, Call or chat with a lawyer about your civil legal matter, at no cost In general, the issues that can develop from fallen trees, dangerous trees, or hazardous trees include: Questions related to tree-damage liability were recently addressed by former Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler, whose office was asked to provide written clarification about the state of Maryland law in this area. If you suffer any damage from the overhanging branches, the neighbor is not liable because your remedy is to trim the encroaching branches. Leaves from the neighbor’s tree consistently clog my gutters and fill my yard. Under the guidelines of the civil code, the trunk of the tree determines the legal owner. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney. When a neighbors tree branch is over hanging an adjoining property line, the adjoining property owner has an absolute right to cut the branch up to the property line. Basic real property law provides that the property boundary goes straight up into the sky and that each property owner has the right to cut down any branches or anything which hangs over onto one's real property. In this situation, Maryland has adopted the “Massachusetts Rule” and D.C. has adopted a slightly modified version thereof. Under that doctrine, the neighbor could obtain title to your property if they possess the property for a 20 year period, and such possession is actual, open, notorious, exclusive and adverse to your claim of ownership. Simply put, it’s the law. Does a homeowner have a similar right? Trees that start out on your property but grow over the boundary between your property and your neighbor’s property become the joint property of you and your neighbor under Washington state law. Specifically, the Attorney General made clear that under Maryland law, the right or duty of a homeowner to cut a neighbor’s encroaching tree branches back to the property line depends on the condition of the tree and the nature of the abutting property. While the homeowner may be permitted to cut his neighbor’s encroaching branches, the homeowner is generally limited to cutting back growth the property line and the homeowner may not enter the adjoining homeowner’s property to remove the growth without the neighbor’s consent. One of the most common issues homeowners face is when a tree's roots or branches extend over the property line onto a neighbor's adjoining property. In fact, in a 1988 decision, the Maryland Court of Appeals specifically held that a landowner could not bring a lawsuit against a neighbor whose trees and other vegetation encroached and damaged his property. Additional Damages and Criminal Penalties for Intentional Damage to Trees in Maryland. Now if the tree in question isn't dangerous, but just needs a major trimming to avoid hanging into your yard or scattering leaves everywhere, that's a … As a storm approaches or yearly growth increases, are you prepared for what could happen with your trees? Melnick v. CSX Corp., 540 A.2d 1133 (Md. Under the law, trees are considered a part of the property and landowners have a right to that tree, even if it is only halfway on the property. 1988); Dudley v. Meadowbrook, Inc. 166 A.2d 743 (Md. The Maryland Thurgood Marshall State Law Library, a court-related agency of the Maryland Judiciary, sponsors this site. Consult Request. Neighbors have the legal right to trim any hanging tree limb that crosses over their property line. Specifically, the Attorney General made clear that under Maryland law, the right or duty of a homeowner to cut a neighbor’s encroaching tree branches back to the property line depends on the condition of the tree and the nature of the abutting property. That means if you have a tree on your property that’s unhealthy, rotting, or generally unsafe, and is close enough to a neighbor that it puts them or their property at risk, you’re liable if anything goes wrong. The laws clearly state that if the tree trunk is in one person's property and the branches overhang into another person's property, the other property owner has all rights … To remove the tree, both property owners must consent. As noted by the Court of Appeals. If you are unable to reach an agreement with your neighbor regarding the removal of the fence, you can file a complaint in the circuit court that requests an injunction as relief. Maryland Right to Farm Laws And a shrub or hedge not exceeding 2 m (6 ½ feet) in height must be planted at least 50 cm (20 inches) from the property line. When branches or roots belonging to a neighbor's tree hangs over your property, you have a right to trim it back to the property line. Phone: (301) 291-5027 Article from 2014. You are free to copy the information for your own use or for other non-commercial purposes with the following language “Source: Maryland's People’s Law Library – www.peoples-law.org. That's right, even if the tree is rooted in your neighbor's yard, if it crashes onto your property, it's your problem. Corp., Maryland’s highest court followed what is known as the “Massachusetts Rule” which in most cases limits the remedy of the landowner that is harmed to self-help – that is, the landowner cannot sue for damage if owner could have removed the encroaching limbs themselves. The law allows you to take the branches from your side of the property line, but should you take one splinter more or stray by so much as a fraction of an inch into your neighbor’s yard, you are committing a trespass and could find yourself liable. Learn your rights and responsibilities regarding trees on neighboring properties Thus landowners in Maryland are provided with certain legal rights to themselves control their neighbor’s living trees, plants, roots, or vines that have encroached on their land within Maryland. The first thing to do is check the laws about tree overhanging the property line. Read the Rules: Md. This article covers some common questions and answers regarding the rights and duties of neighboring land owners. You can not make your neighbor do it or pay for it. In Melnick v. C.S.X. What can I do? Trees located on a boundary line are considered joint property, and no single neighbor can decide to remove the tree. Homeowners can refuse this, but the authorities are within their power to remove the trees without consent. Your neighbor would technically have the right to prune any portion of your tree that passes over that imaginary line, so long as it does not damage your tree. 8:30 am - 8:00 pm, Mon - Fri, From MD Legal Aid; Edited by www.peoples-law.org/contributors. The rights of a property owner when a neighbor’s tree, tree limb, or roots damages their property. The rights of a property owner to legally force the removal their neighbor’s trees. Under the law, trees are considered a part of the property and landowners have a right to that tree, even if it is only halfway on the property. No. If Maryland does not have such a law, general Maryland criminal statutes, such as those related to theft or property damage, may still apply. © 2021 Longman & Van Grack, LLC All Rights Reserved, Montgomery County Maryland Lawsuits & Trials, Administrative Appeals and Petition for Review, Tax Court Appeals and Tax Petitions for Review, Estate Administration and Estate Planning, Estate Planning & Administration Overview, Sports Law & Outdoor Recreation Law Overview, Contract and Document Review for Sports & Outdoors Industry, Liability Waivers for Sports & Outdoors Industry, Olympic and Professional Athlete Legal Representation, Legal Liability for Tree Damage in Maryland, Virginia, and DC. In Cline v. Dunlora South, LLC, the court specifically stated “this Court has never recognized, nor do our precedents support, a ruling that a landowner owes a duty to protect travelers on an adjoining public roadway from natural conditions on his or her land.”. The law is unclear on whether landowners can remove a tree themselves when it sits on a property line. Situation 3. Even if the tree trunk is on your neighbor’s property, you have the responsibility for cutting any branches that extend onto your property line. However, it may be difficult to persuade a court to order your neighbor to cut back a tree or other plant, unless you can show that the overgrowth is harming you or your property. An exception to this, attorney Steve Goldman with … Maintenance of trees on private property can often lead to disputes between neighbours when a tree has been planted close to the property line. Trees and other growth from a neighboring property can often cause damage and legal risk to a landowner/homeowner. Safety: Do not climb trees or trim trees that are located near power lines without taking necessary precautions first. A sapling planted 15 feet in from a property line in 1970 could today have branches, limbs or roots that extend far over the owner's property line. You can cut back anything up to your property line. This will keep you safe from any legal action. Your neighbor has every right to remove the part of the tree growing over his property. It is essential that you determine the location of your property line. Trees Along Property Lines Overhanging branches, invasive root systems, and falling debris can all cause tensions between neighbors. A large tree limb leaning over … While Washington, DC formerly followed the same “Massachusetts Rule” that Maryland follows, Washington, DC decided in 1960 to follow a slightly different rule. Thus, if a tree falls in Washington, DC on a neighboring property, the ordinary laws of negligence will apply. You may cut a branch, vine, or root of a neighbor’s tree or other plant that extends onto your property, but only back to the neighbor’s property line. You may be violating local law if your tree (no matter how beautiful) presents a hazard to your neighbor (for example, if dangerous limbs hang over the neighbor’s property), violates any height limits or view ordinances, or straddles the property line. This tree danger determination was new law in Virginia. Tree roots that cross over a neighbor's property line cannot be cut, uprooted or in any way destroyed unless the roots are causing damage to that neighbor's property. (To learn more about damages and criminal penalties in tree injury cases, see Nolo’s article When a Neighbor Damages or Destroys Your Tree.) If the tree is on the property line, both property owners share the value of the tree and are responsible for upkeep on their side of the boundary line. There are trees on my property line that are hanging over on towards my side.they are endandering my home and family.do - Answered by a verified Lawyer . Ornamental or landmark trees can have a value of between $20,000 and $60,000. You are responsible for the cost of cutting any branches you choose to trim. This will only be necessary if the trees are blocking the road or causing obstruction. Suite 750 #6E If the trunk stands partly on the land of two or more people, it is called a boundary tree, and in most cases it belongs to all the property owners. An injunction is a court order directing someone to do OR not to do a particular thing. Under Maryland law, you are responsible for the proper care and maintenance of your trees and, if they become a nuisance, you may be liable for damages. From branches that inch over the property line to tall trees that block a view, dealing with plants that affect multiple properties is tricky! The rights of a property owner to remove or trim their neighbor’s tree roots. If a neighbor’s tree encroaches over the property line and presents a danger to the homeowner, the burden is on the homeowner to protect his property by cutting the invading branches and roots to the extent that they protrude on the homeowner’s property. Understanding UK law relating to trees can help everyone grasp the rights and responsibilities of tree ownership. Trees are a lovely thing -- until they become intrusive or hazardous. You should only enter that portion of your neighbor’s property to which your neighbor grants you access, and you should comply with any other lawful conditions they may impose. Property lines extend from the ground up into the sky. However, before you take this step, it important that you first get an order from the district court to do the trimming or cutting of the overhanging tree. If the neighbor's tree is near the property line, but not actually crossing it, no trimming can take place by the other neighbor without first obtaining permission to do so. But disputes over trees near the property line can involve large sums of money, especially if the tree is damaged or dies.” Aside from its aesthetic value and its contribution to the environment, trees may have a monetary value to the homeowner, depending on the location and other specifics. Maryland in a dispute over who owned three trees.2One year later, in March 2013, Emmy Award-winning film director John Upton was shot during a dispute when his neighbor attempted to cut down trees that provided shade Neighboring landowners have legal rights regarding adjacent trees and tree growth, and there is significant law in Maryland, Virginia, and DC regarding tree related lawsuits, tree disputes, and tree litigation. Neighbor law. Can I force a neighbor to pay for cleaning out my gutters clogged with leaves from his or her tree? So, if your tree falls in Maryland, you may have liability depending on (a) where the property is located, (b) whether you knew that the tree was dead or dying, (c) whether you should have known about the danger, and (d) whether you had taken reasonable steps to prevent the accident. First of all imagine a large oak growing over the property line. If any limbs extend over the property line, they fall into that neighbor’s jurisdiction. A reader wrote asking for more information about tree liability: "Yes, by law you or I can cut back to the property line anything that hangs in or over our property … Where a healthy tree straddles the property line, the property owners "each hold title to a portion of [the tree], and thus neither can take any action against their portion of [the tree] that would injure [the tree] as a whole." If a neighbor’s tree encroaches over the property line and presents a danger to the homeowner, the burden is on … According to common law in Connecticut, it’s your legal responsibility to make sure that the trees on your property don’t pose an “unreasonable danger” to others. Bethesda, MD 20817 Now, a lot of people ask us why they should have to pay to trim a neighbor’s shrubs and trees hanging over their property. Trees located on a boundary line are considered joint property, and no single neighbor can decide to remove the tree. Following the Dudley case Washington, DC courts simply ask, if necessary: “Did plaintiff make out a prima facie case to show that defendant landowners had been negligent?”  This DC rule was supported by the same highest court in the 2008 case of Tolu v. Ayodeji. Corp., et al., 312 Md. Courts have upheld that a homeowner’s tree rights extend indefinitely upward on his property line, and those rights are protected from invasion by an adjoining landowner. What a person’s rights and obligations are as they pertain to their trees or the trees of the neighbors depends upon state law. So, Maryland residents are required to cut any offending vegetation at their own risk and expense at the property line… With Offices in Maryland (Rockville or Bethesda), and Washington, DC, the attorneys at Longman & Van Grack assist clients throughout Washington, DC and Maryland including Montgomery County, Howard County, Prince George’s County, Chevy Chase, Darnestown, Gaithersburg, Germantown, Potomac, Silver Spring, and Wheaton. Your neighbors have a duty not to trespass on your property, and this may include overhanging tree branches or other plants extending from the neighbor’s property onto your property. Can I cut those branches to limit the amount of leaves? Or your neighbors’ trees? In most cases this is the only help that is provided by the law, even when damage from a tree is substantial. Fruit that’s still on your neighbor’s tree belongs to your neighbor, even if the branch it’s attached to is hanging over your property. Tree removal has been the subject of a lot recent legal and litigation discussion. 1961). Instead of researching the issue, the day laborer was turned loose on the trees like Jason in Friday the 13th. Instead, the landowner is limited to the self-help remedy of cutting encroaching branches, vines, and roots back to the property line … In one example, several lawsuits being filed by homeowners seeking to stop the utilities from removing beautiful mature trees growing on private land. In this case you must contact your local authority. A neighbor’s tree branch that hangs over your property may fall in a storm, resulting in damage to your home, car or other possessions. Once a property boundary has been crossed, a neighbor's trees can impact one's own property, causing damage to fences, sidewalks and other structures. In Texas, a person is not under an affirmative duty to prune or trim a healthy tree when its branches extend over his neighbor’s property, even if the tree branches extend over the neighbor’s roof or driveway where cars are parked. We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options. I find a distance of only 2 m (6 ½ feet) between a really large tree and the boundary line a bit thin, but at least the law is clear. 10411 Motor City Drive Our tree dispute and property dispute attorneys have handled tree lawsuits and property lawsuits in Montgomery County Circuit Court (Rockville, MD), Prince George’s County Circuit Court (Upper Marlboro, MD), Howard County Circuit Court (Ellicott City, MD), Frederick County Circuit Court (Frederick, MD), Baltimore County Circuit Court (in Towson, MD), and DC Superior Court (in Washington DC). Most trees have a replacement value of between $500 and $2500. In England and Wales the authorities have powers to act against potential damage-causing trees on private property. Being living organisms, trees grow and spread over time. In 1960, the highest court in Washington, DC stated in Dudley v. Meadowbrook, Inc.: We think the sound and practical rule is that liability in such cases is to be determined by the test of negligence and that a landowner should be held to the duty of common prudence in maintaining his property, including trees thereon, in such a way as to prevent injury to his neighbor’s property. By continuing to use this site you consent to the use of cookies on your device as described in our cookie policy unless you have disabled them. Maryland does not have a specific law defining and regulating boundary fences, but there might be a local ordinance (in your city, county, or town) that has rules on boundary fences. However, if the trunk is on the property line, it’s known as a boundary tree, and all property owners involved share responsibility for what happens to it. A tree cutter would be hired and generally would cut and remove all of the tree materials on your property up to the property line. If the trunk of the tree is on the property line you jointly own the three with your neighbor. Trees that start out on your property but grow over the boundary between your property and your neighbor’s property become the joint property of you and your neighbor under Washington state law. Whether you can cut your neighbor’s tree that has branches hanging over your land, the Maryland courts follow the “Hawaiian Rule” whereby the owner of the tree has no obligation to control the growth of the tree or to pay for damage to your property caused by the overhanging limbs. Branches of the neighbor’s tree hang in my yard. If you wish to trim or cut down a tree that is close to a public road, you may need to apply to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources for a permit. 511, 540 A.2d 1133 (1988), the Maryland Court of Appeals held that a landowner does not have a cause of action against an adjoining landowner when trees, vines, roots, and other plants or plant debris from the adjoiner’s property encroach upon and cause damage to the landowner’s property. This can require a survey, which could be expensive. My neighbor has put up a fence that goes over my property. If you have a dead tree on your property, cutting it down could be a smart move. Usually this… Trees and Property. Sunday May 13, 2007 at 12:01 AM May 13, 2007 at 12:52 PM. A sapling planted 15 feet in from a property line in 1970 could today have branches, limbs or roots that extend far over the owner's property line. Can I cut down the branches of a neighbor’s tree that is hanging over my property? This legal right in Maryland is referred to as “self help.” While self-help is often the remedy to be used by a neighbor in the face of an encroaching living tree, such a remedy is not always the case. Situation 2. Property owners in every state have the right to cut off branches and roots that stray into their property, in most cases this is the only help that is provided by the law, even when damage from a tree is substantial. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. The Law. When a neighbors tree branch is over hanging an adjoining property line, the adjoining property owner has an absolute right to cut the branch up to the property line. So your neighbor has been nicely asking that the overhanging branches be cut by you, or that you cut down the tree, depending on how much of the tree is overhanging. If it is found that the fence is on your property, you should take some action or risk losing ownership rights under the doctrine of adverse possession. If your property backs onto a road and has a problem with overhanging trees, it’s possible the Highways Agency might ask you to remove them. In Melnick v. C.S.X. In other examples, our law firm has represented individuals against governments related to tree hazards/damage and against neighbors for tree hazards/damage. In a clarification decision in 2012, the Virginia Supreme Court decided not to extend the Fancher ruling to rural settings. Self-Sown Trees However, neighbors may only cut the limb back to the property line and may not enter their neighbor's property for further cutting without permission. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established. If you do harm the tree, you could be found liable for up to three times the value of the tree. Relying on the easements granted to them many years ago, the utilities are often permitted to remove trees that they deem to be a future threat to their power lines. You cannot cut down the tree without getting the permission of your neighbor. When branches or roots belonging to a neighbor's tree hangs over your property, you have a right to trim it back to the property line. Courts have upheld that a homeowner’s tree rights extend indefinitely upward on his property line, and those rights are protected from invasion by an adjoining landowner. However, the law only allows tree trimming and tree cutting up to the property line. Branch of the law: Rules about trees that straddle property lines rooted in common courtesy . Again, these laws can differ in each state, so be sure to look up the exact law in your area. But he cannot cut the tree down or cause it to be killed. The Fancher court clarified that its prior rule was for. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Hiring an attorney is an important decision which should not be based solely on advertising. Overhanging Branches on Your Property. If you damage the structure of a neighbor's tree, you may be liable for damages. Each landowner has an interest in both boundary and border line trees. If the entire trunk is in the other yard, the neighbor owns the tree. Generally, if a tree trunk sits on both you and your neighbor’s property, is owned by both of you, and you are both responsible for the tree. The Hensley court noted that the general rule was that the rural landowner did not have a duty to inspect rural trees abutting public roads for dead or decaying limbs due to the practical difficulty of doing so, however, in a more urban setting, since the landowner may only be responsible for a few trees (which can be more easily inspected), there will exist a duty to use due care to protect others from damage or injury caused by dead or decaying trees. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters, and electronic mail. Accordingly, while in Maryland, an owner of rural or suburban forest land may likely not be liable for damage done by dead tree limbs falling onto the property or persons of others unless the tree constitutes a danger to lawful users of abutting public roads and the owner is aware or should be aware of the tree’s deteriorated condition, a urban homeowner may very well be liable for the same injury since the owner will likely have far fewer trees to inspect and, therefore, is seen to have a duty to know about the existence of dead or decaying trees on the owner’s urban property. Longman & Van Grack’s litigation attorneys consist of lawyers who have handled many different types property lawsuits, tree disputes, tree damage lawsuits in many courts throughout Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC. As a general rule of law, you can trim back any part of any tree that is hanging over/encroaching into your property. Property owners in every state have the right to cut off branches and roots that stray into their property. However we do not provide legal advice - the application of the law to your individual circumstances. Neighbor's Trees Trees and neighbors and the law. If my neighbor owns a fruit tree, and the branches hang over my property… Fax: (301) 291-5028 Massachusett's Homeowners Rights on Trees Overhanging Property Lines. However, it may be difficult to persuade a court to order your neighbor to cut back a tree or other plant, unless you can show that the overgrowth is harming you or your property. You cannot cut down the tree without getting the permission of your neighbor. Tree laws and tree lawsuit can be significant in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC. The potential legal liabilities of property owners when their trees threaten or actually cause damage to their neighbor’s property. And border line trees not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice surveyor... 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This is the only help that is provided by the law allows tree trimming up to your property cutting! Responsibilities of tree ownership the right to cut down the tree, limb! Do or not maryland law trees hanging over property line extend the Fancher court clarified that its prior rule was for trees! Oak growing over his property tree Overhanging the property line, over your yard or your. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters, and no single neighbor can decide remove... All cause tensions between neighbors order directing someone to do a particular thing property often. In most cases this is the only help that is provided by law... Landowner has an interest in both boundary and you set up one of our real! Of leaves to perform needed repairs to my own property without his or her tree, DC a! The only help that is hanging over my property, DC on a neighboring property often! Every state have the right to Farm laws property owners must consent interest. Which your neighbor ’ s consent before entering their property line the sky trees have a of. State, so be sure to look up the exact law in your area the to... Information you obtain at this site offers legal information, not legal advice Inc. 166 A.2d 743 ( Md remedy! Removing beautiful mature trees growing on private property tree down or cause it to be, legal,. Tree that is hanging over my property responsibilities of tree ownership their power remove... A smart move landowner can still be held liable where dead or dying tree limbs from trees on land. Directly: Adam Van Grack or Theodore Kiviat is essential that you determine the location your...

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